NHL on NBCSN: Sharks’ ‘dog fight’ continues vs. red hot Ducks

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NBCSN will continue its coverage of the 2014-15 campaign with a doubleheader tonight. The second half will start at 10:30 p.m. ET with the San Jose Sharks hosting the Anaheim Ducks at the SAP Center. In addition to NBCSN, you can watch it online.

The Ducks have won six straight games and are on track to claim the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time. One thing they haven’t been able to do so is regularly get the better of the Sharks. In four meetings this season, San Jose has earned three victories and has outscored Anaheim 15-8.

Given how strong a team the Ducks have, already having the season series against them locked is a big accomplishment for San Jose, but it hasn’t been enough. Although the Sharks are in a playoff position right now, they only have a two-point cushion.

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“We’re in a dog fight. That’s the best way of putting it,” Sharks coach Todd McLellan told CSN Bay Area.

He added, “We’re a middle-of-the-pack team right now. Until we declare ourselves any different, and that’s through play and wins, that’s what we are. We have to take steps forward to overcome that.”

The Sharks mediocrity this season stems from their inconsistency. In their first game back from the All-Star break, they have an opportunity to set a new tone going forward. It can be a new beginning for guys like Tomas Hertl, who dazzled observers when he was healthy during his rookie season, but has endured a rough sophomore campaign with just 17 points in 48 games. It’s also a chance for Patrick Marleau to regroup. He scored at least 30 goals for five straight campaigns (not counting the lockout-shortened season), but has found the back of the net just nine times this season.

The Ducks will naturally counter with the one-two punch of forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry. While Anaheim collectively hasn’t had much success against San Jose this season, that duo has remained very effective and will likely make life difficult again for the Sharks.

The Sharks need these two points more than Anaheim, but the Ducks shouldn’t have a difficult time staying motivated as they battle to put themselves in the best possible position going into the playoffs.